Molly Peacock was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1947 into a working-class family in which signals were unclear and life was unpredictable. Her father, Edward Frank Peacock, was a charming but unreliable alcoholic, and her mother, Pauline Wright Peacock, was a churchgoing Baptist. As the first child, Molly found herself in the impossible situation of trying to bring order to their chaotic home and to nurture her younger sister. Summer visits with her grandmother in the country allowed her the peace and space to find her gift for writing, and she sent her grandmother her first work.
Writing was Peacock’s key to control and escape. Putting her experiences into poetic patterns allowed Peacock to impose a sort of order on her life, and she continued to write as an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Binghamton. After receiving her B.A. magna cum laude, she continued to write as a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and then at The Johns Hopkins University, where she was a Danforth Fellow and received an M.A. in 1977. After receiving her degree, she accepted several administrative positions before turning to a life as poet and teacher.
She has been writer-in-residence for the Delaware State Council on the Arts and has taught at Hofstra University, Columbia University, Friends Seminary, and elsewhere. Avoiding the usual tenured position of an academic poet in an M.F.A. program, Peacock decided instead to take short teaching engagements in widely different programs, allowing her to make of her career a continual discovery. She settled in New York and Toronto with her husband, Michael Groden.